Perspectives

by Juan L. Mercado

“An Open Letter to  the  Filipino  People” is how Carmen L. Puertollano captions her message to President Benigno Aquino III. A  US Agriculture Department staff member for 35 years, she retired here in 2006.

We never met Ms. Puertollano, now of Pasig  City. But a former neighbor, in our Bangkok stint with the United Nations,  forwarded a copy. Sorry if the English translation below does not do justice to her eloquent Tagalog.

 

“We Filipinos are like Israelites of Moses time, after their flight from Egypt. Did they thank God? No. Reklamao ng reklamo.

The same thing is now happening to us. We should be grateful for a President of integrity, P-Noy is not a thief.  He  would clean government and hold accountable those who robbed us blind in the last decade.

When we voted for Aquino, we knew what kind of a congressman and senator he was.  We voted for him because there was no one else we could pick.  We also saw he meant to uproot graft.  Remember, he was a reluctant candidate.

Now, some complain incessantly . It’s been a year since P-Noy’s election, they bleat,  And “nothing has been done”. Scores remain jobless. Mahal any presyo ng bilihin at ibat iba pa.

That’s not Aquino’s fault. Price inflation is worldwide and cuts across borders. He has been at this job for just over a year. Give him time.

Media reported crackdowns on graft in the Armed Forces,  Philippine Charity Sweepstakes and recovery of funds from thieves in the previous regime.  Are these not achievements? Who of previous presidents did this?  No one!

Thus, succeeding admnistrations turn to thievery with little hesitation. They try to outdo each other in fraud. My impression is P-Noy wants to uproot this curse.

Are you not concerned that the life and well-being of our President is threatened by the people who interests he has affected.  Let us not fan this danger. God forbid that what happened to his father could strike him down too.

He is laying his life on the line. We should pray he will be given wisdom by God, as Solomon was. If there is any way we can help him, help him.

Nakakaawa na ngong tingnan si P-Noy.  Dati poging-pogi. Ngayon?  Pogi pa rin. Pero nangayayat na,  At talagang kalbo na. 

But don’t fret Mr. President.  We believe in your integrity.  Filipinos who reklamo ng reklamo, can learn from their bible what happened to carping Israelites.

“Partial Redemption” spoke of Marcos Cojuangco going  “ballistic on live TV”, Marco Antonio Luisito V. Sardillo III  emailed.  Thanks to ABS-CBN  Karen Davila’s  invitation, “I was there”  to hear  Cojuangco’s  apologia for father Eduardo getting 16.2 million San Miguel Corporation shares,  courtesy of a Supreme Court majority.

Earlier, we  marched with protesting coco farmers from San Pablo. We helped  draft PCGG’s bid for reconsideration. That backdrop explains why we rebutted  Marcos Cojuangco  saying: “The only question remaining is what good has Danding Cojuangco done for these farmers?”  Marcos mocked beggared farmers by saying his father deserved a medal.  That was repulsive.

There are noteworthy points, in Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s dissent,   the interview did not have time to address. Some justices, for instance, claim there is no “explicit definition of ill-gotten wealth.”

Contrary to what the ponencia wrote, there is a definition of ill-gotten wealth. Justice Sereno reminded the Court it adopted a definition of ill-gotten wealth in Republic vs. Estate of Hans Menzi, penned by Justice Velasco. Section 1 of  PCGG also defines ill-gotten wealth.

Robbery thru the coco levy “is no longer just a mere question of law or of fact, but a simple and demonstrable truth”.  The farmers had enough of “us” lawyers. If this fight is to succeed, our farmer must reach out to nation and people”.

“Local government officials keep demanding for ever larger Internal Revenue Allotments”, emailed  Atty. Carmen Montemayor of Danao City. Yet,  LGUs “failed to use P876.8 million,  available in 2010, from the 20 Percent Local Development Fund, as the column  “Withered Hopes”  points out.

The year before, 102 LGUs idled P650.6 million. This fund is precisely designed as a safety net  for the poor, that  Viewpoint commentary recalled. “Quick to junket or crib allowances for themselves, many local officials  prove inept—or indifferent—to projects that relieve penury.”

“To cross-check, I leafed through the latest Commission on Audit annual report (Vol III) on local governments,” Montemayor said. “I paid special attention to the what DILG  Secretary Jesse Robredo calls the “most abused item in the budget, namely: the “20% Local Development  Fund”.

“Expenditures for personal services and regular maintenance expenses continued to be charged to this fund despite rules to the contrary, COA found.

Talisay City, for example, billed this Fund for P27.8 million of unimplemented  projects.  Marikina funneled 15% of it’s  P135.6 million Fund in violation of rules. COA rapped Davao Oriental province’s knuckles earlier for misuse of the 20%  LDF last year.  It doled out P1.98 million, again in violation of guidelines. So did Cabanatuan,  Cotabato, Agusan del  Sur, Sulu, etc,etc, etc.

“This is en-masse violation. And it calls for tougher measures because the poor are the victims,” Ms Montemayor wrote. “Specifically, I propose mandatory cuts from salaries of local officials who plunder this Fund.

(Email: juanlmercado@gmail.com)

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